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New tools for sustainable farming
Date:8/26/2009

Environmentalists are just as fond of talking about it as are politicians, economists or marketing experts "sustainability" has become a buzzword. The problem is that the term sustainability can refer to many things and have manifold interpretations. Agricultural scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen have shed light on the subject. Together with colleagues in theoretical and applied science they have managed to give the term "sustainability" a more definite meaning. They have helped to make this multi-faceted concept quantifiable a benefit to farmers, food manufacturers and consumers alike.

Not to live at the expense of the environment and of coming generations, but rather to strike a balance between exploitation and renewal when using resources this is a central idea of sustainability. It originated in forestry and can be reduced to one basic principle: Never fell more trees in a forest than can grow back. Today the idea of sustainability has taken on significance in all sectors of the economy, but the crux lies in the implementation. "Regenerative systems tend to be very complex. Farmers aiming at running their enterprises in a sustainable way need a solid basis for their decision-making," says Prof. Kurt-Juergen Huelsbergen from the Chair of Organic Farming and Crop Production Systems at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen.

The research question was: How can the sustainability status of farms with available operating data be determined and systematically improved? The goal was very ambitious to improve the environmental balance of agricultural enterprises without compromising their operating efficiency and social performance. In years of meticulous work to this end, the team of researchers developed indicators and models to analyze, assess and optimize the sustainability of agricultural enterprises. After all, sustainable farming really does benefit everybody: It conserves natural resources, saves energy, reduces the need
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Contact: Patrick Regan
regan@zv.tum.de
49-892-892-2743
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Source:Eurekalert

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